I just blew in from the Silver City

Well it’s high time I posted an update on our activities for those who don’t know us or follow us on twitter (where we’ve shared probably too much information on the joys and pains of what we’ve been up to). For those lucky enough to be ignorant of the goings on, here is a short list! In the 3 months that we loosely term “Summer” we crammed in:

  • A few trips between North Wales and North East Scotland for job interviews and house hunting (18 hours roundtrip each time)
  • A 10,000 word dissertation
  • A graduation ceremony, complete with stupid hat and not falling off the stage
  • A civil partnership ceremony
  • A trip to visit/meet family in America
  • A 60,000 word thesis
  • The Most Traumatic Visa Application Of All Time, collated over a few months and finalised after 36 hours of no sleep, 24 hours of travelling and serious if-I-don’t-get-some-sleep-soon-I-will-set-out-on-a-murderous-rampage-starting-with-you jetlag
  • Being split by 400 miles when Jenny started her new job while I was still in Wales
  • A(nother) wedding party (long story)
  • The “big names” relatives meeting for the first time
  • A compact tour of North Wales for visiting American family while also packing the house
  • A cut-throat game of moving van tetris
  • Moving house (which was traumatic enough in itself to constitute at least one and a half Ian McEwan novels, the hero being Jenny’s dad who drove us the whole way up before catching a train back to Manchester for a long-haul flight home)

How long does it usually take for a couple to cross all of these things off their to-do-list? We have decided that after all this we are never doing anything again. Or at least not for a while. Probably.

Anyway, you will remember all the madness around the changes to immigration laws and The Evil Government. I haven’t posted ANYTHING about our wedding, about the ceremony, about the visa application or anything related because I’m slightly superstitious and don’t want to jinx us. You might be interested to know that out of all the letters we sent, all the emails, all our family and friends who lobbied politicians with us, I think Jenny had one reply that didn’t address any of the LGBT issues she raised (and we, along with thousands of other people have faced). I have not received one reply from any politician I contacted. The welcome anomaly in this case has been Caroline Lucas, who Jenny tweeted asking her to take up the problems and fight our corner. She replied straight away and asked for more information. Personally, I was so surprised and pleased by her reaction that I almost erected a shrine to her and the Green party in our tranquil back garden, but again, I didn’t want to jinx anything.

There has been no word yet on our visa application. Will we have our life together torn apart on the whim of UKBA and Theresa May’s backward thinking? We shall see.

As for the wedding, I cried all morning and then I cried at our friends at the registry office. We were late for the party because the metro was down so we got the bus and then walked, the party was well underway when we got there. Everything was excellent and I wouldn’t change anything.

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A letter to Theresa May – Guest post by Jenny

Hi Theresa,

I thought you’d be interested to hear a personal story relating to your proposed rule changes. I’ve been an international student for three years and am on the cusp of completing and handing in my dissertation. I’m also engaged to be “married” to my English partner, a fellow student who I met while studying and being active in my local students’ union. We’ve been together two years, and I couldn’t have found a better person to spend my life with. Isn’t that great? If it sounds great, keep reading, because I have even more wonderful news for you.
On top of my upcoming civil partnership ceremony at the end of July, I’ve been offered a permanent job at a rate of pay which is a little lower than the new £18,600 per annum you’ll soon expect British nationals to make, but is the perfect job. I couldn’t have designed better and I’m willing to take slightly lower pay for a few years to really get a solid grounding in the professional field I’m seeking to enter. It’s a graduate role that I couldn’t have gotten without my UK university experience under my belt and it’s in something I’m really passionate about. My partner is looking for work now in the city we’ll be moving to together, and luckily enough, she’s secured one interview so far. We’re hoping against hope that she gets it. The situation for us wouldn’t be so urgent, you see, if you hadn’t introduced some of the most illogical and backward rules for family class migrants I could’ve invented in my own worst nightmare.
Your new rules, Theresa, the ones that are supposedly to prevent abuse, and state dependency? They’re hurting us. I’ve always followed the rules. I’ve been a great ambassador for what being an immigrant should mean. I’m likely to make, and continue making, a productive member of British society. You’re ruining a lot of things for us with this sudden and swift change. Let’s start with our late July wedding, which now has the shadow of the UKBA and the 9th of July rule change looming over it. (Oh, by the way, three members of my family are coming from the US to visit and spend lots of nice American dollars as tourists, for our wedding. They’ll be travelling, spending money in shops and supporting local businesses by eating out a lot and paying for our wedding cake and flowers from local companies. They’ve also paid for a substantial portion of the cost of our wedding which, because we have ethics and values, has emphasised local goods and services as much as possible.)
We’ll just miss the deadline for this new rule change by a couple of weeks, meaning that all the hard work I did to ensure that I had an appropriate job before we went on holiday next week is a total waste. All the work I did to ensure that I’d be able to afford to support us both while my UK partner continued her job hunt is now pointless, because you won’t recognise any of it. This is utterly ridiculous and so deeply disheartening that I can’t really express it in words. There is also the fact that my family- both of my parents and my gran- are more than willing and able to help support us as a couple, and me as an individual, while we settle into our new, “married” working life. I’m disgusted that the REAL facts of my situation will not even be taken into account. You’re insisting on looking at only a small percentage of the picture, and discounting valuable information like the fact that I have a permanent job offer and family support.
This is why your policy just makes no sense at all. I mean, by your own justification, it shouldn’t even apply to me! I’m not in an abusive relationship, I won’t need state support (and neither will my partner) and your rules, which threaten my ability to remain here with my future wife, actually threaten to split us up. See, Theresa, I’m American. My home government doesn’t recognise my upcoming civil partnership as valid. I don’t even have the option of bringing my partner with me as a spouse. And she’s a fresh out of the blocks graduate- she won’t be eligible for a US HB visa for quite some time.
I just hope you’ve really thought this through, Theresa. This is utterly heartbreaking and I have to be honest, infuriating. I don’t even expect a proper reply to this letter because I’m sure some office minion will just read it and send a standard form response. That’s a real disappointment because if you understood the high personal and emotional cost of these rules- and I’m sure they’ll cost the UK a lot in lost tax revenue, too- I would like to think you might reconsider. I fall into that lucrative 20-30 year old employed bracket that everyone’s going on about- you know, the 58% of applications that will be refused under your new rules.
I write this in the very vain hope that it might spark a glimmer of compassion and sense in your Government’s approach to immigration.
Thanks for your response.
Jennifer Krase

Taking it to the government

Last week I sent this email to our local MP, Hywel Williams of Plaid Cymru:

Hi Hywel,

I live in Arfon and have heard only good things about you and the way you engage with the people you represent. I know you have a strong record of supporting equality and want to add my voice to those calling for marriage equality.

As someone who is organising a civil partnership for this summer I can tell you that although the law allows for gay couples’ rights, navigating the system we have to work within is very strange and unwelcoming. Having compared my own experience to the process of arranging a marriage I am left quite dissatisfied with the provisions made for same sex couples.

I would be interested to know where you stand on the subject of ‘gay marriage’.
I’m sure you’re aware that same sex marriage is legal in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Mexico City, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and six US States.
I believe it is up to community leaders to lead the way on equality and encourage colleagues to do the same.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Today I received this reply:
Thank you for your email about marriage equality.
I think that we agree entirely on the issue of same sex marriage.  The opponents clearly believe in marriage.  It seems peculiar therefore that they wish to deny that status to people of the same sex.  Furthermore, I have found some of the comments of the opponents to be totally repugnant.  The other day I heard one comparing same sex marriage to people wanting to marry their pets!
I have to say though that I do find myself in strange company on this issue, in that for the very first time I will probably be supporting Mr Cameron and a fairly substantial section of his party!
Please feel free to contact me again on this or any other matter.
Best Wishes
Yours sincerely
Hywel Williams
I love it when politicians don’t suck! What a novel feeling being represented by someone who shares my view!

Invitations!

Now that the posted invitations have started arriving I can upload them here for you to see! The reply postcards are as they were in one of the first posts on this blog. The actual invitations were going to be hand stamped with a rubber stamp set but after a while we decided that it didn’t look as good as we’d hoped. We settled for stamping the addresses on the envelopes (which is why, for those of you who received them, they looked like a child had gone at them with their first felt tip).

Thanks to a public printer and some bargain card/envelope sets our home made invitations were as thrifty as the rest of the show! I drew the design on the front. Here it is (print screen from photoshop):

 

For those who don’t know, this is basically our kitchen. They are my wellies and Jenny’s eskimo boots, our tap is wonky and there are mountains outside. It’s our life postcard sized!

This was my first real bash at Adobe Illustrator. Let me know what you think!

Dress shopping

It may come as a surprise to you that dress shopping was stressful. Not only is there a lot of pressure to look a certain way but no one but us seems to grasp what we’re going for. This is no traditional wedding, there will be no white dresses, organs or speeches. This is about Jenny and I. We aren’t doing this so we can act out the bizarre rituals thrust upon every bride and groom since forever (we aren’t allowed to get married in a church, why would we carry over the religious symbolism?). We’re doing it because we want to be together for good and we want the rights that come along with that. This is the ultimate commitment and I could not give a damn about what kind of hosiery you’re supposed to wear. It could not be less important to me. The reason we want nice dresses is because we want to feel special and happy and mark the day with dressing up, not with nonsense that other people want to fuss over.

I took loads of pictures of dresses, I was going to post them here but really, who cares? I’m frowning in most of them anyway. This is the only picture I’m showing you. Jenny in a lovely dress expressing how much she loved our shopping day:

You’ll see our dresses in the after pictures!

Update: Hey TopShop, do you have this in size fat?

It’s been an interesting few weeks for us. Very busy with lots of friends coming and going. We’re being offered help from here, there and everywhere (which is lovely) but really we have to go off and do the time consuming things that can’t be done over the phone, online or by someone else. Mostly dresses. I feel like a quick hike up to Mordor would take less time and effort than finding the right dress is going to. We’ll be taking a weekend to travel to The Big City and find dresses that we love. This is not going to be as fun as it sounds. For me shopping has traditionally been a traumatic experience. As Jenny would say “Hey TopShop, do you have this in size fat?” but when you’re an awkward teenager, you think TopShop shouldn’t carry size fat and you should be 10 dress sizes smaller than you are regardless of what size that is. Hence, years later, I just about manage to look the changing room attendent in the eye without thinking “she thinks I’m too fat to wear these clothes”.  So a weekend of this is going to be fun! I’m considering turning the whole thing into a bridal bingo competition. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

In other news, this is the current list of things we need to finalise:

Printing, pressing and sending invitations, restaurant negotiations, buying the rings and what will actually be said at the ceremony (remember “I promise to be your special friend and platonically hold your hand in public from now until forever as my right kindly given to me by the civil partnership act of 2004 yak yak”).

Things we need to start organising/questions we still need to answer:

Dresses, shoes, jewellery, favours, flowers, do we want a cake? Is it going to be incongruously traditional? Are we going to have two brides on top? Are we going to throw bouquets? Will we both throw bouquets? What will that mean for the people who catch them? This is getting ridiculous.

As you see there is still much fun to be had. 5 months to go and I’m haunted by the image of a white fruitcake with two gowned brides on top.

I leave you with this beauty, recieved this morning from the registry office: